My mother’s father was a larger than life figure… a true man’s man. And, someone I have tried to emulate my entire life. The other day, when I posted Tool Box Thursday, I started thinking about my grandfather, who passed away more than a few years ago. He was my ultimate resource for all things tool related and beyond. He was a man who could fix anything; from a broken radio to a crushed dream.
He spent most of his life working for Grumman Aerospace, now called Northrop-Grumman. The company is a large defense contractor that for years was based right here on Long Island, and built many aircraft, including the F-14 Tomcat made famous by the movie Top Gun.
Like many men of his generation he didn’t attend college, instead a trade school. He served in the Marines during World War II, then had children and moved to the suburbs. He was electrical engineer who achieved the prestigious job title of Final Inspector. Nothing left the hanger without his stamp of approval. Literally, he had a small stamp with his initials that embossed all the electrical components of a particular aircraft. The pinnacle of his career was working on the first lunar module that would land on the moon. The old joke in our family has always been that he never made it to the moon but his initials did. There are still warplanes today, flying around, protecting us, with his initials in them.
As a little boy I always looked forward to going to his house, often I would stay over night and just tag along from project to project. My grandfather never sat still, always something to fix, tweak, improve, tear down and build again. I was the original Helper. Now you know where my little guy gets it from.
One memory, that came rushing back the other day while I was writing my post, was my grandfather's pen and pocket knife. He always had the same Parker stainless steel pen in his front left shirt pocket and a small, very sharp, pocket knife in his left rear pants pocket. It seemed that with these two items he could rebuild an engine or frame a house. To be honest, he probably could.
Men learn how to be men from other men. We learn how to treat a woman by watching our fathers love our mothers, and our grandfathers honor and care for our grandmothers. We learn how to be gentlemen from watching true gentle men. Father’s are not easily impressed by their sons, but they’re always proud of them. As men, we’re remembered by the character of the men we raise.
To this day, I have never left the house without my stainless Parker pen or my pocket knife in my left rear pant pocket.
I love you Grandpa… thanks for the tools… and the knowledge and ability to use them... I'll make you proud!